The Devil Is In The Details

Well, this is interesting. According to a preliminary estimate of 2018 carbon emissions from the Rhodium Group, U. S. carbon emissions increased sharply last year despite notable reductions on the use of coal and gasoline:

After three years of decline, US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose sharply last year. Based on preliminary power generation, natural gas, and oil consumption data, we estimate emissions increased by 3.4% in 2018. This marks the second largest annual gain in more than two decades — surpassed only by 2010 when the economy bounced back from the Great Recession. While a record number of coal-fired power plants were retired last year, natural gas not only beat out renewables to replace most of this lost generation but also fed most of the growth in electricity demand. As a result, power sector emissions overall rose by 1.9%. The transportation sector held its title as the largest source of US emissions for the third year running, as robust growth in demand for diesel and jet fuel offset a modest decline in gasoline consumption. The buildings and industrial sectors also both posted big year-on-year emissions gains. Some of this was due to unusually cold weather at the start of the year. But it also highlights the limited progress made in developing decarbonization strategies for these sectors. The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019.

Since the most likely approaches to implementing a carbon tax (cf. France’s “Yellow Vest” protests) would in all likelihood exempt diesel, that suggests that reductions in emissions can’t be accomplished just on the basis of a switch to natural gas and implementing a carbon tax could be more painful than some have assumed.

7 comments… add one
  • TarsTarkas Link

    To me it’s pretty obvious that the economy taking off has caused the spike in CO2 emissions. Which took off because Mrs. Grifter Carpetbagger lost the election to someone who despite his many and consequential flaws believes in the USA and knows how to get things done. If she had won and instituted all the ‘reforms’ and taxes and regulations she was planning on imposing, the economy would have remained in the tank or worse and CO2 emissions would have continued heading down. Crushing the economy while lining ones pockets because of climate models that have never come close to actually predicting climate is almost as stupid as burning food (corn) for fuel. Oh, wait, we’ve been doing that for years.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    The rise in CO2 emissions is regrettable. Make a note of it for the Climate Czar. Have him forward the new numbers to the Energy Czar regarding lowering production of heating oil for the next few winters as less will now be needed. Possibly less winter boots and coats as well.

  • steve Link

    “have never come close to actually predicting climate”

    Go read your science journals. The predictions have ben pretty accurate.


  • Ben Wolf Link

    James Hansen’s Scenario B climate model, presented to Congress in 1988, is pretty damn close to what we’ve seen over the last thirty years. Science works. Magical thinking about Jesus stopping changes to atmospheric composition do not.

  • Guarneri Link

    “Magical thinking…..etc”

    Nice red herring. But you are aware, right, that considerable debate exists over the Scenario A,B,C analyses? Principally over the role of CO2 vs other factors, including other green house gases. This only reinforces the disingenuousness of settled science claims.

    Despite this, the universal solution still seems to be a deindustrializing and wealth transferring tax on CO2 which, 1) won’t be honored by key CO2 producers, 2) ignores other key and uncontrollable variables and 3) refuses to acknowledge available alternatives like nuclear (I wonder why?). Its also a solution known as suicide, or ain’t gonna happen (AGH).


  • bob sykes Link

    Al Gore likes to use the Vostok ice core gas data for his presentations. In that sequence, temperature changes up or down precede carbon dioxide changes by 400 to 800 years. That means that temperature is driving carbon dioxide, not the other way around.

    Now these data represent the coming and going of ice ages, which are extreme climate changes, and they are know to be driven by orbital changes that increase or decrease solar radiation at mid and high latitudes.

    The recent Little Ice Age (ca. 1300 AD to 1900 AD) was driven by reductions in solar output, and we are now in a recovery from that. The sun has been unusually active in the 20th Century. The recovery from the depth of the LIA occurred before there was any substantial increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide due to industrialization or other human activity.

    None of these changes were driven by carbon dioxide.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    After three decades of constant scrutiny, analysis, and re-analysis, this month’s “This is not Cool” video by Peter Sinclair asks a handful of climate scientists how Hansen’s testimony has stood-up.
    On 30th anniversary of James Hansen’s landmark global warming congressional testimony, scientists agree he ‘got it right.’

    Hansen “got it right,” says scientist Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute in Germany. “Amazing … remarkably prescient when it comes to the predictions he made decades ago and how it’s played-out,” says Penn State’s Michael Mann. He pointed to an “eerie match” between Hansen’s forecasts and actual observed warming in the succeeding decades.

    Hansen in that 1988 congressional testimony nailed it, adds Texas A&M scientist Andrew Dessler. “You could have reached an alternative conclusion” based on the science at that time, he says, pointing to the 1990 IPCC conclusion that the observed warming at that point was consistent with global warming evidence, but also with natural variability.

    “He was kind of out on a limb on one end of how you could read the data,” Dessler continued. “But it turned out he was right.”

    That’s a view shared in the video also by climate scientists Eric Rignot of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Zeke Hausfather of the University of California Berkeley. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Ben Santer says the mounting evidence since Hansen’s 1988 testimony clearly shows that natural variability alone “can’t come anywhere close” to causing the actual human-caused warming Hansen had projected.

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